AARC Tip of the Month: November 2014


Prevent a Holiday Meltdown

The holidays are here! Unfortunately, this can be a stressful time for children with autism as changes in routine can create anxiety and meltdowns. Here are some ideas for you and your family to help lessen holiday anxiety and prevent meltdowns:
  • Create your own family holiday traditions - Instead of trying to adjust your child to existing traditions, create your own family customs. You might allow your child to skip the chaos of opening presents, or you can hold the holiday meal at your house.
  • Speak up ahead of time - Call or email your family and let them know anything that might make things easier. This could be identifying a quiet place your child can go to if things are loud, or having foods on hand that your child enjoys.
  • Have an escape route - Know what you are going to do if your child has a meltdown.  This may mean taking two cars, or having someone sit and quietly read a book with your child in a separate room.
  • Special diets and holidays don't always mix - Bring plenty of treats that your child can enjoy. Also, ask your family to keep treats that are super tempting (but off-limits to your child) off the main table.  Family members can enjoy the treats discreetly, and your child doesn't see what he/she can't have.

Visiting Family and Friends

The holidays are all about being with family and enjoying the festivities. This can be very difficult for a child with autism. This does not mean the holidays are ruined! It simply means that, as a parent, you will have to take some precautions. Here are some tips for visiting friends and family with your child:

  • Plan visits with family and friends for short periods of time - This will help to keep your child from becoming overtired, overwhelmed or bored.
  • Spread visits out over many days - Visiting small groups of people in multiple visits can be less stressful than trying to see many people all at one time.
  • Reward your child for good behavior while visiting others - This will help encourage good behavior.  




Book Suggestions:
These books have chapters on handling holidays, and are available in the SESA Library. You may search the library on the SESA website, or you may contact our Librarian, Anne Freitag, at afreitag@sesa.org or 907-334-1301

For easy searching on the SESA Library site, we've added the ISBN call number. Simply copy, paste, and search!

The Everything Parent's Guide to Children with Autism: A reassuring guide to know what to expect, find the help you need, and get through the day
By: Adelle Jameson Tilton
Adams Media, 2004. 
ISBN: 1593370415

There is a tiny section (just a few pages!) on dealing with holidays and family events. 

I Like Birthdays - It's the parties I'm not sure about!
By: Laurie Renke
Illustrated by: Jake & Max Renke
Sensory Resources, 2005. 
ISBN: 9781931615167

The child in this story would rather not go to a party. This may help facilitate discussion of large social events. 


Model Me Going Places
[Video-recording (DVD)]
Model Me Kids, 2010. 

Developed for children with autism spectrum disorder, PDD-NOS, nonverbal learning disorders, social anxiety, and learning disabilities and delays. Watch as children model appropriate behavior in a variety of community locations. This video shows several social situations.


Tasks Galore: Making groups meaningful
By: Laurie Eckenrode, Pat Fennell, and Kathy Hearsey
Tasks Galore, 2005. 
ISBN: 1934226025

This book has photographs of set-up activities for groups. There is a section on doing home parties, which may be helpful during the holidays. 


By: Patricia Snair Koski
LinguiSystems, 1998. 
ISBN: 0760602042

This resource contains pictures, stories, and cards, including many familiar winter activities, plus one story about New Year's Eve. 


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